Vodafone New Zealand has ramped up network investment to manage increased demand during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. In a statement on the company’s website, Tony Baird, Vodafone NZ’s Wholesale and Infrastructure Director, revealed the operator is investing in numerous urgent projects, including partnering with Nokia to boost capacity at 265 4G cell sites across the country and borrowing additional 2.6GHz spectrum from Dense Air for three months. In addition, the operator is working to upgrade cell sites from 3G to 4G and has deployed cell sites on wheels to boost areas of congestion in essential services. Baird stressed, however, that coverage issues in less populated areas will only be resolved in the longer term by building additional cell sites via the Rural Connectivity Group.
The executive revealed online data traffic continues to be 20% higher across the country than pre-lockdown levels, with spikes of up to 30%, while the time spent on voice calls has increased by 60%. There has also been a 40% surge in data consumption in rural areas between midnight and 9am, after the operator began offering unlimited free data overnight to these customers.